Iran wants control of Iraq’s Sinjar: Kurdish militant / The military commander of the anti-Tehran Kurdistan Freedom Party claims IRGC officers are routinely visiting Sinjar.


NowMedia – 5 March 2016 – BEIRUT – A top official in an anti-Iranian Kurdish party has claimed Tehran aims to control the strategic Sinjar region along Iraq’s border with Syria that has become a flashpoint for inter-Kurdish tensions.

Kurdistan Freedom Party military commander Hossein Yazdanpah accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of taking an increasingly active role in Sinjar, claiming that the commander in the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force toured the region two months ago alongside Hadi al-Ameri, a leader in the Tehran-backed Iraqi paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces.  “The visit comes amid Iran’s ongoing attempt to control the ground route connecting Iran and Syria that stretches across the Kurdistan region’s territory, and to secure a passageway for weapons and fighters in Syria,” Yazdandah—a harsh critic of Tehran—told Saudi-ownedAsharq Alawsat.

“Iran wants to take control of the strategic Sinjar Mountain,” he said, adding that a number of other IRGC officers had traveled to the Yazidi-populated area via Baghdad.

Since ISIS overran Sinjar in the fall of 2014, opposing Kurdish groups and local Yazidi fighters have fought alongside each other to expect the jihadists, while at the same time jockeying between each other for ultimate control over the border region.The Kurdistan Regional Government led by Massoud Barzani considers Sinjar to be under its administrative control; however the rival Kurdistan Worker Party (PKK) does not want Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to exert its influence over Sinjar, which the latter effectively controlled prior to ISIS’s lightning 2014 advance. Following the collapse of ISIS lines, PKK-backed Yazidi officials in Sinjar met to form an autonomous administrative council in January, a move blasted by KRG as allowing Syrian Kurds to expand their authority into Iraq. Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces in the fall of 2014 helped relieve the ISIS siege on Yazidi civilians in Sinjar Mountain, but KRG forces led by Barzani have taken the lead role in subsequent offensives that forced ISIS out.

According to Wladimir Van Wilgenburg, a political analyst and journalist specializing in Kurds, “the PKK is much weaker in Sinjar than [Barzani’s forces], although it is stronger in the area close to the Syrian border.”

The Kurdistan Freedom Party’s Yazdanpah said Iran was taking advantage of inter-Kurdish disputes, not only between Kurds in different countries but also within the KRG, in order to “destroy the region’s political unity.” Yazdanpah supports the KDP’s Barzani, calling the KRG powerbroker the “leader of the Kurdistan liberation movement in the Middle East.”

Although Yazdanpah’s party originates in Iran’s Kurdish-populated region, it now maintains a presence in Iraq, and its fighters have foughtalongside KRG troops, including reportedly in Sinjar.